Tuesday, May 12, 2009

John Rabe

I wanted to take a minute to write about the last bigger project I worked on. It is a German feature film called "John Rabe", which was released theatrically in Germany on April 2nd, 2009. For trailers and more information, please visit the official website (not available in english as far as I know), or check Wikipedia.

The film is based on the true story of a german businessman working for Siemens in China during the second world war. By establishing a safety zone, he helped save more than 200.000 chinese people from the japanese army during the so-called Nanking Massacre. While largely unknown in Germany and the rest of the world, he is still adored in China to this day, and his house was turned into a museum.
After he had returned to Germany, Rabe and his family lived in poverty until his death in 1950.

His diaries, which were the foundation for the movie, have been published in book-form as well. In the U.S. the book is called "The Good Man of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe", in German it's called "John Rabe. Der gute Deutsche von Nanking" by Erwin Wickert.

The film was produced by Hofmann&Voges Entertainment and directed by Florian Gallenberger. I had the chance to work on the movie for almost 6 months, animating the japanese fighter planes for the various air raids. The warplanes were done completely in CG and then integrated into the live-action plates. I was the only animator on the show and animated almost 50 shots, ranging from 20-frame-scenes featuring one airplane to the city attack with more than 30 fighters and bombers. Joachim Grüninger was the VFX supervisor for the show, Alex Lemke was the Compositing Lead.

Although the movie was recently awarded with four "Lolas" (German Movie Awards), including best film, as well as two Bavarian Film Awards, it was not successful at the box office. It will get quite a large release in China, though, and I hope it will reach more people there.

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